Keller and Katy featured two of the top programs in the state.
Unfortunately, someone had to lose.
In a pitchers’ duel between Keller’s Dylann Kaderka and Katy’s Alyssa LeBlanc, it was LeBlanc and the Tigers advancing with a 1-0 victory in the 6A state semifinals Friday at McCombs Field.
Katy (36-2) advances to the state championship against Klein Collins at 6 p.m. Saturday.
“I’m extremely proud of the girls,” Keller coach Christina Gwyn-Barton said. “They had to overcome so many battles this year, and they really learned to play together.”
Both pitchers were dealing with very few threats throughout the game.
Cait Calland opened the Tigers’ sixth by reaching base on a hit by pitch. She advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Chloe Cobb then took third on a steal. With one out, LeBlanc walked, and Olivia McFadden popped up in foul territory.
The Tigers called the double steal. Keller threw to second, but the throw home was too late to give Katy the 1-0 lead. LeBlanc (23-1) then retired the side in order to send the Tigers to their first softball state title game since winning it all in 2015.
LeBlanc threw a four-hit shutout, walked two and struck out seven.
“When you get to this point, that’s what it’s going to come down to,” Gwyn-Barton said.
Keller (35-4-1) was playing at state for the third time in four years after winning in 2016 and 2017, but the Indians only managed four hits all night, three from sophomore shortstop Alexa Langeliers.
Langeliers went 3 for 3 with a double in her state tournament debut. She led off the top of the sixth with a double to center and moved to third on a grounder from Tessa Galipeau.
But LeBlanc registered back-to-back strikeouts to leave Langeliers stranded. She was one of six Indians base runners stranded on the night.
“Absolutely, we should have capitalized when we had some runners on base, but at the end of the day, both teams played fantastic; someone had to win,” Gwyn-Barton said.
Keller got a runner on in every inning but the seventh, while the senior Kaderka, who holds the program record in career wins, kept the Indians in the game.
Kaderka (25-2), who finishes with 81 career wins, allowed one run on three hits with four strikeouts and six Tigers left on base.
“She definitely left her mark on the program,” Gwyn-Barton said.